I’ve been trying to write something about my Beirut, but I couldn’t.
My great-grandmother was born and raised in Beirut, so was my grandmother and my mother.
When I was born during the civil war, my mother did not want me to suffer as they did, so I was not born and raised in Beirut. She thought she was breaking the “generational curse,” but she didn’t know that the love of Beirut is a destined generational blessing.
I spent most of my childhood in grandma’s house. As soon as my sister and I grew up, we started running away to Beirut and not from it. Beirut became a refuge, and despite its many problems and pain, Beirut never let us down. Why should we?
All I can think of now is how my beloved city was destroyed seven times and has risen like a phoenix; this is the eighth time now. A devastating explosion took place in Beirut on the fourth of August. Hundreds were killed, and thousands were injured. The blastwave caused extensive damage to houses and buildings, leaving 300,000 people homeless.
How can we ever come back from that? We can’t on our own, and I need the entire world to help my Beirut rise once again from the ashes. But before we rebuild it, we need to get rid of the corrupt politicians. Because of them, people lost their lives—it’s time for them to resign.
I have always said that if I were a city, I’d be Beirut. I’d be old but young, sad but joyful, tumultuous but peaceful, simple yet sophisticated, loving yet strong, and giving my everything even when I have nothing left to give. Then I figured out that each and every one of us is Beirut.
Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise came to mind, and just like that, I wiped my tears, washed my face, and promised myself that I will give my all to help what I love the most—a part of my soul—to rise again and again.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.